Katunggan It Ibajay
(Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park)

“The home of centuries-old and biggest apiapi or bungalon
(Avicennia rumphiana) mangrove trees in the Philippines”
By Jun Macogue


Welcome to the magical and mystic mangroves of Ibajay, Aklan.

The Bugtongbato-Naisud basin (inland) mangrove boasts of 28 true mangrove species or 80% of the 35 Philippine mangrove species, but the jewel in its crown is a magnificent stand of centuries-old mangrove trees known scientifically as Avicennia rumphiana, and locally as apiapi or bungalon. Biggest of this group is a 20-meter tall tree with girth (circumference) of 8 meters. Equally captivating is the piag-ao whose leaves turn a brilliant yellow, orange and red, then fall in late January.


The forest is full of birds and other wildlife, among the latter are the mud lobsters, called the engineers of the mangroves because they continually rework the substrate to build high mounds. Step down the boardwalk as the tide goes out, and get up close and personal with fiddler crabs, mudskippers and other fauna.

No need to get muddy or wet as you can take a stroll on the 800-meter footwalk, or go rafting upstream when the tide is high, and picnic among the wildlife. The Katunggan it (Mangrove Forest of) Ibajay Eco-Park is managed by two organizations – the Bugtongbato Fisherfolk Association and Naisud Mangrove and Aquatic Organization. Fees go to support the running of the Park.

Historical and Research Notes

Local folks believe the forest is enchanted and protected by spirits. In the mid-1980’s, villagers and officials used “People Power” to stop chainsaw operators from cutting trees to make fishponds. The “discovery” of this patch mangrove by SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department researchers in 1996 was followed by studies over the next 10 years, as documented in scientific publications, notably the 2004 Handbook of Philippine Mangroves. Construction of the footwalk started in 2008 with funds from a Pew Fellow grant (of scientist J.H. Primavera, who also initiated the research). The following year marked the passage of Municipal Ordinance 92 proclaiming 44 hectares as an Eco-Park, and completion of the footwalk by the local government of Ibajay in collaboration with the Community-Based Mangrove Rehabilitation Project of the Zoological Society of London. On 19 January 2010, the KII Eco-Park was inaugurated by Ibajay Mayor Ma. Lourdes M. Miraflores.

Why Protect Mangroves?

Mangroves have provided coastal communities a variety of goods and services including fisheries and forest products, nurseries for fish and shellfish, wildlife habitats, and protection from typhoons and floods. Sadly, Philippine mangroves have declined from half million hectares in the 1900s to only <100,000 hectares today due to conversion mainly to aquaculture ponds, but also settlements, croplands, etc. Which makes the Bugtongbato-Naisud forest all the more remarkable - - - so come and experience this mangrove like no other!!!

 
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park
Ibajay Mangrove Eco-Park

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